Kayak Crappie Fishing

As kayak fisherman we often get tunnel vision when it comes to targeting a specific species of fish. For me that Species became a mix of Bass. My every waking moment for the past five years has been spent thinking of how to achieve my goal of catching the elusive double digit bass. This “Tunnel Vision” can be a good thing, but it can also take away from the enjoyment of just fishing for fun. Growing up, my Grandpa taught me how to fish for Crappie and Walleye. These were the only two fish my Grandpa targeted and they are what sparked my love for fishing. Last year I decided to break out of the Bass fishing tunnel vision and figure out the most productive ways chase Crappie.

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There are many different ways to target Crappie. Some of my favorites are Dock Shooting, Spider Rigging, and Long line trolling. We utilized all of these techniques in the boat when I was a kid, but until last year, my Crappie fishing out of a kayak had been limited to Dock Shooting and vertical jigging brush with one rod. Both of these are very productive techniques during certain times of the year, but I was missing the ability to really put some fish in the boat when the crappie move out deep or are schooling on the flats. I needed to figure out a way to Spider Rig and Long line troll efficiently in a kayak.

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The first solution I came up with was to utilize RAM 2007 rod holders on the Big Rigs GearTracs, and RAM ROD 2000 holders in the threaded insets just behind the front hatch. Using these rod holders with nine and ten foot rods is an effective way to setup a Spider Rig for Vertical Crappie trolling. Eventually I started to use the RAM Tubes that come with the Big Rig for long line trolling. The key to using them is to utilize the side mounting hole on the base. This allows you to lay the tubes out flatter and makes it easier to see them from the seat. I utilized the two techniques to catch my limit of Crappie almost every trip out for a year.

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After spending a year with my new Crappie Fishing setups I started to think of ways
I could improve. I had two issues that were manageable, but were causing me to miss fish. The first issue was speed. Crappie are very finicky when it comes to Color, Depth, and most of all speed. Some days they want the lure dead still while other days they want it moving at a certain speed. If you are moving faster or slower than that speed you can troll right through a school and not get a bite. Being able to hone in on that speed and stay at that speed can be a challenge with a paddle. Using my Raymarine Dragonfly 7 GPS allows me to monitor my speed, but I needed a way to keep it more consistent. The second issue was being able to reach my rod in time to set the hook. Crappie often have a very light bite. They will inhale a jig and spit it out in a split second. If you are not ready and able to set the hook as soon as you see your line move you are going to miss the fish. With my Spider rig setup, I had to keep my rod holders far enough away from me to allow for a full paddle stroke. Using the RAM Tubes for Long lining kept the rods behind me and out of my paddle stroke but also made it hard to detect bites without constantly turning my head back and forth to look behind me. To combat both of my issues. I decided to try out a Trolling motor with a Variable Speed Throttle. Using that variable speed throttle on the trolling motor I can now Spider Rig and Long Line troll through a school of Crappie at a consistent set speed. It also allowed me to move my spider rigging rod holders closer to the seat and my long line rod holders to the GearTracs in front of me. You can check out more about my trolling motor setup here: https://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2015/09/23/big-rig-electric-motor-install/

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My latest Crappie setup consist of Two Cumberland Crappie, Two Rod-360 Rod holders mounted to the Big Rig GearTracs with YakAttack Mighty bolts, and two RAM 2007 rod holders mounted to the GearTracs right behind them for Long Line Trolling. I use two Ten foot Crappie rods on the outside of the Spider Rig and Two Twelve Foot Rods on the inside. Long line trolling is done with two ultralight rods in the 2007 rod holders. I mount my Raymarine Dragonfly to the center console GearTrac.

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This has turned out to be the ultimate Kayak Crappie fishing setup for me. It is a little overboard and many people will be able to catch a limit of Crappie with a couple rod holders and a good depth finder, but it sure is fun watching the boat guys faces as you pull one crappie after another out when they are getting skunked. It is amazing what you can do in a kayak with a little creative rigging!

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